This is the second "island" book I've read this summer, the first one being Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand. Both of them are winners.
The island, in this case, is Block Island off of Rhode Island and the characters are lonely and unconnected strangers who come together there one summer and change each other's lives. Some of them are permanent residents and some are summer visitors but they are all looking for something while hiding secrets from the world.
Joy Sousa is a single mother of an adolescent daughter who has painstakingly built a business which supports her and her daughter with very little financial assistance from the absent father, who has remarried and has another daughter. Joy's business is a bakery that specializes in whoopie pies, but this summer her empire is being threatened by a food truck that has come to the island and has proved very popular with the islanders much to Joy's chagrin.
Anthony Puckett is a New York writer who had produced a much-acclaimed best seller as his first novel but had suffered episodes of writer's block in trying to complete the second. He ended up plagiarizing an obscure writer in order to finish and he was found out, resulting in scandal and his publisher revoking the deal for the second book. Moreover, his wife, who was having an affair, kicked him out of the family home and is being uncooperative about letting him see his beloved four-year-old son, Max. Now he's hiding out in a friend's rather ramshackle cottage on the island, hoping the whole mess will blow over and trying to figure out his next move.
My favorite of the characters is Lu Trusdale, maybe because she is a blogger! She is the mother of two young boys, the wife of a surgeon who very much wants a third child, and the daughter-in-law of a very meddlesome woman. She was trained as a lawyer but she gave all of that up to be a stay-at-home mom. She is also the secret author of a wildly popular food blog. No one in her family knows what she is doing or that she has accumulated a substantial separate bank account from earnings of the blog. Now she has been offered the opportunity to speak at a conference of food writers and to author a book. That could be problematic because she writes in the voice of a stay-at-home doting DAD! Yes, all her readers think she's a man.
There are other characters, but these are the main three and they are all wonderfully drawn by their author, but perhaps most vividly drawn is the island itself. Her descriptions of the beaches, the village, the Caribbean blue waters, and the secret places known only to islanders are thoroughly evocative and they make the island come alive as a character on its own.
The way in which Joy, Anthony, and Lu and their families come together and affect and change each other gives the story a nice momentum and sense of anticipation. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the tale of this momentous summer on the island and loathe to put the book down. It may not be great literature but it is an engaging story about sympathetic characters and a completely entertaining summer read.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars